Imagine this: 16 miles of scenic roadway running along the coast and surrounded by trees. Sounds nice, right?

Well, you don’t need to imagine it. This scene exists; It’s M-119 also known as Michigan’s Tunnel of Trees. The route runs alongside the coast of Lake Michigan giving amazing views and makes for a beautiful weekend or afternoon drive. 

In this post, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the Tunnel of Trees, a bit of history, how to get there, and what to do along the way. 

So, bring your cameras, pack your lunches, and let’s go.

The History of the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Route

Light At The End Of The Tunnel. Path through a lush forest tunnel of trees to an exit illuminated by sunlight in Michigan's north woods.

The road that is now M-119 was first built approximately 100 years ago. But this area has a history far beyond that. This general area was a common route for the Ottawa tribe. They traversed this path as a trade route between other tribes and parts of the country.

Once you spend any time along the roadway, you’ll quickly see why it became known as the Tunnel of Trees. Soon the surrounding area will disappear, and you’ll feel as if you’re in the middle of a thick and lush forest.

Things to See Along the Tunnel of Trees

There are plenty of little stops you can take along M-119 to make a solid day trip out of this journey. Keep in mind, this is a scenic route, so it’s best to go at a slow pace!

If you’re starting in Harbor Springs, Pond Hill Farm is a great first stop. This locally owned farm grows it’s own meats and produce, plus there is a vineyard. It’s the perfect spot to grab a picnic lunch and head out. 

Even though the lake is usually obscured by trees, you can make a stop at Thorne Swift Nature Preserve. This 30-acre park has 300 feet of public beachfront on Lake Michigan. If it’s a hot day, make sure to stop here for a quick dip.

View of Lake Michigan during sunrise and sunset, between Petoskey and Charlevoix Michigan.

As you get toward the end of the Tunnel of Trees, keep an eye out for Petoskey. This super cute little town right on M-119 is home to plenty of boutique shops and small restaurants. Petoskey has a wonderful view of the lake and some beautiful Victorian style cottages from the late 1800s.

As you’re driving, pay attention to a few sharp curves in the road, namely Devil’s Elbow and Horseshoe Curve. These offer more than just turns, as Devil’s Elbow has long been thought by locals to be a place with lots of paranormal activity.

Getting There

M-119 starts on the outskirts of Bay View, Michigan ends at Cross Village, Michigan. The entire route is just under 30 miles and winds around Little Traverse Bay as it opens up to Lake Michigan. The Tunnel of Tees encompasses a portion of M-119 running from Harbor Springs to Cross Village.

It’s just over 3 hours from Grand Rapids on Route 131 North. It’s less than an hour from Cheboygan and Mackinaw City. 

Take your time to enjoy meandering along the Tunnel of Trees. This small area of Michigan has tons to offer, so take advantage of it! If you are visiting from out of town and need help with hotel reservations, head to our sister site, for help.